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Race Course Preview: 2022 RLC Residences New Clark City Triathlon

by Coach Don Velasco/ Images by sports photographers Marvin Manalang/Austine Morfe

New Clark City has hosted a lot of multisport events this year. Thanks to its world class facilities, wide open roads, and proximity to Metro Manila, it has proven to be a perfect venue for duathlons, aquathlons, cycling events, and of course triathlons. The very first multisport event held here was the NCC Triathlon last October, 2019 and this year, after the pandemic, it will be the much-awaited sequel.

This event is unique as it is one of the few pool-based triathlons that cater to both newbies and veterans quite well. We’re here to break down the NCC Tri Long category of 900m swim, 50km bike and 12km run.  If you are racing the NCC Short Category, you can still use this preview as you will still navigate the same course, it’s just multiple laps for the Long version.   This is a unique distance as is slightly longer than the Olympic distance, lesser swim but longer mileage on the bike and run.  We hope you can absorb vital information on this preview so you can perform at your best on race day!

SWIM COURSE: 900M (500M MAIN POOL+400M PRACTICE POOL)

As mentioned, the swim takes place in the pool, two of them in fact! It starts off in the main competition pool before heading to the adjacent warm up pool nearby. The main pool is 500m (10 lanes) and the practice pool is 400m (8 lanes). From experience, it is much better than doing two loops in a single pool.

This format lessens congestion among swimmers and gives a welcome break to the monotony of pool swimming. The rolling start format will also lessen congestion as you will start in a group of 3 to 5 athletes.  If you are a good swimmer, you will spend your time overtaking people on the left side of the lane.   If you are an end of the pack kind of swimmer, it is wise to settle in the right side, and just let faster people overtake on the left.   Do not forget to touch the end wall when you go transition to the next lane either by tumble turn or hand push-off.

Also remember to take extra caution when transitioning between pools as the floor can be quite slippery. In the words of race director Jumbo Tayag, “Safety comes first before anything else.”

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BIKE COURSE: 50KM (2 LAPS OF 25KM COURSE)

After 900m of swimming, it’s time to make your way to transition 1 and hop on your bike. The bike course is new to this year’s edition but has been a mainstay of duathlons and cycling time trials in the past. The course is a far cry from the compressed and rough course of the 2019 NCC Triathlon.

With new roads paved during the pandemic, there’s a new playground that we can enjoy without worrying about cars and other obstacles. In fact, with 3-4 lanes to our disposal, there’s plenty of room for all participants. Just make sure you don’t hog the entire road to give way for faster athletes who want to overtake. Always stay right.  Conversely, overtaking athletes should not pass on the right side of the road. Shout “on your left!” Just remember, by giving a polite but stern heads up we can help prevent any accidents from happening. If you fail to keep right and/or pass left, you’ll be flagged for a violation; we all just want to finish safely so let’s do our part.

The bike course consists of two loops and is by no means easy. The rolling hills, ranging from 3-6% gradient, are a lot harder than what most people initially think. Out of the NCC complex, you’ll have a couple of kilometers to settle down before tackling your first uphill segment of the course. This segment features the New Clark City to Clark Aiport access road.  The first hill, albeit short, is still tricky as your fresh(er) legs and eager mindset can cause you to overcook your effort too early.

After the first turn around, you’ll have a rather long and fast downhill stretch with some potholes here and there. Remember to avoid hitting these potholes as not only can you flat, you might also end up with an untoward spill as well. After the long downhill, comes a long (and more challenging) uphill. Shift to the right gear and spin your way to the next turn a few kilometers ahead. The second part of the course consists of roughly the same type of terrain with steeper hills scattered along relatively flat segments. This is the NCC-SCTEX access road.  Avoid trailing other participants as this is a non-drafting race. Remember that you need to maintain a 10m distance from other participants to avoid getting a stop and go penalty.

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As you can probably figure out, not only is it hard to maintain your average speed on the bike, your legs will also burn rather quickly if you push too hard; this makes running off the bike even more challenging. My tip here is to avoid hammering the uphill segments and instead keep it smooth and steady. If you burn less matches, you preserve muscle glycogen better and of course prevent the buildup of lactate in your legs!

Depending on race-day weather, heat may be a factor in the bike leg as it is almost shade-less.  Adjust your nutrition accordingly if the conditions become hot on race day.

RUN COURSE: 12KM (2 LAPS X 6KM COURSE)

The run course is notorious for being a crampfest since there are a lot of twists, bends, and of course, hills! Consisting of two loops, make sure you bring your A game as it gets real challenging. After making your way out of transition 2, you’ll be greeted with a short uphill segment and a rough patch of road approaching Riverview Park.

After which, you’ll have to navigate a short winding road and go up a sharp and steep hairpin turn at the end. The fun isn’t over as you’ll have to make your way down a long, hot, and open segment of road along the National Academy of Sports area. Just remember, what goes down must come up! As you make your U-turn, load up with a sports drink and water as you’ll need it for the long stretch of road ahead.

Lastly, the run course also makes its way into the athletics stadium and around the oval (once every loop). If you didn’t do well the first time around, you have another chance at redemption with the second one. Just make sure you pace the race well and going hard, too early, will result in slower times overall.

Upon completion of the 12km run leg, make your way to the finish line at the NCC Aquatic center and savor the moment. You’ve just raced one heck of a race. Congratulations!

Coach Don Velasco is an elite age group triathlete.   He is also an experienced multisport performance coach. Follow him @flyingdonv or visit flyingdonv.com

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